I am not a whiner. I am a crier, though. I am a big-time, world class, cry-baby. I am what you might call an "all purpose crier." I cry for joy, sadness, surprise, pain, anger, fear, frustration, love, passion, ... and most other emotions, too. (Are there others?)
People have various reactions to my tears. Some people get irritated and end the conversation; I guess they think I'm just an emotionally unstable, hysterical female. Some people try to make me feel better and tell me to stop crying; they don't get it. Some people get uncomfortable and try to rationalize the situation; they try to tell me what to do that will "fix" it. Those people are like Job's friends. They mean well, but their focus is on their own reactions, and they are not helpful.
I love people who ignore my tears and continue the conversation. I especially appreciate it when people cry with me on occasion. Those are the people with whom a person can learn and grow and change. I love to find myself in the company of people who are comfortable with tears, mine and theirs.
Tears are, for me, sort of like the steam valve on a pressure cooker. They provide an outlet for the excess energy that allows the cooking to take place inside without blowing up, melting down, starting a fire or otherwise causing havoc. The steam escapes, the food cooks unseen inside the pot so the results can be enjoyed in due course. That is exactly the way I process life's hurdles. I cry a lot, but while I'm crying, I'm also thinking and talking (or writing) and dealing with whatever is happening in my life. The really good stuff happens late in the process after most of the excess tears have been shed and the internal bubbling settles down to a gentle simmer. In the cooking process, that's when the food gets really, really tender and tasty. In my experience, that is when the real growth happens for me emotionally. People who try to stop me before I get to that point annoy me because they prevent me from completing the work I need to do in order to deal with whatever challenge I may be facing. When I get past the tears, I can look at whatever is going on clearly, objectively, rationally -- and then I can learn from it, make whatever decisions need to be made, and grow and change.
Granted, the revelations that occur at that point or the fear of the next steps I need to take following the decision-making process often kick off a whole new round of tears, but that is just part of the process for me. I have learned that is the way it works for me. My own personal dialectic works kind of like this: Challenge (tears/fears); Processing; Growth (tears/fears) -» New Challenge (repeat process).
The reason I am thinking about this today is because I was privileged to have had a conversation recently with a lady whom I do not know well but with whom I found myself discussing something rather personal. [Isn't it wonderful how women can do that?] She shared something that prompted me to respond with a really candid, nakedly revealing remark about my own similar experience. When I heard what I said, I started to cry. She didn't bat an eye and went right on talking. I went through three or four tissues as we finished our conversation. She shared enough of her story to make me feel less alone and to remind me that this too shall pass. She also provided me with some valuable information. It was one of those brief, blessed moments when two people happen to connect and very quickly reach a place of deep understanding, compassion and caring.
I am so very grateful for that..... and for all my friends who put up with my weepy ways.